Politics The Contenders: Hillary Clinton
posted by January 8 at 9:05 AMon
Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.
No one, Democrat or Republican, has generated more ink in the run-up to the run-up to the 2008 presidential election than Hillary Rodham Clinton — and she hasn’t even declared her candidacy (although everyone assumes she will soon).
For political journalists and pundits, part of the attraction to writing about Hillary Clinton is that she’s such a rich topic: She’s an automatic front-runner if she enters the race; she’d be the first woman president ever; she’s a “polarizing personality” who has nevertheless won fans in the red parts of New York State; she’s smart as hell and, by the admission of many Republicans, a formidable force in the Senate; and she’s married to Bill Clinton, ex-president, ex-philanderer, current international do-gooder, and constant object of fascination, demonization, and idolization.
Can she win? Should she run? Is she a selfish distraction from better candidates? Does Obama have a better chance? If you’re hanging out with Democrats, you’re hearing all of these questions and more, constantly.
And so is she. Here’s Hillary herself talking recently about Obama:
Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947 to a Methodist family. As a child she was fond of sports. As a Girl Scout she earned lots of awards. In 1964, she campaigned for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. In 1969, having switched parties, she graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Political Science. She then entered Yale Law School, where she began dating Bill Clinton. In her summers, she worked for Senator Walter Mondale, assisting a subcommittee on migrant workers. Later she worked for George McGovern’s presidential campaign.
In 1975, two years after graduating from Yale, she married Bill Clinton and moved with him first to Fayetteville Arkansas, and then to Little Rock where he was elected as governor in 1978. By that time she was the first woman to be made full partner at Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm. In 1980, Chelsea Clinton was born.
Something of a feminist, Hillary only began attaching the surname “Clinton” to her own name during her husband’s second gubernatorial bid, in 1982. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984, and throughout her time as First Lady of Arkansas continued to practice law with the Rose Law Firm.
When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Hillary became the first first-lady to hold a post-graduate degree and the first to have a successful career of her own. Even more ground-breaking, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to the powerful Task Force on National Health Care reform. However, the body’s recommendations failed to gain traction in either the House or the Senate, resulting in the well-known “Hillarycareâ€? debacle.
Hillary won a race for the U.S. Senate in New York in 2000, and again in 2006. As senator, she sits on the Committee on Armed Services; the Committee on Environment and Public Works; the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and the Special Committee on Aging.
Clinton voted for the war in Iraq but has been critical of the way the war has been conducted. She’s pro-choice, in favor of domestic partnership rights for gays and lesbians, and against the Federal Marriage Amendment. She supports three-strikes sentencing, the Kyoto Protocol, and gun control. She’s against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Her record in the Senate has been lauded by people on both sides of the aisle, leading many, including journalist Chris Smith, in a recent New York Magazine article, to wonder why she would want to give it all up and deal with a bruising campaign in which stuff like this would come to look tame:
It’s a good question, and one likely to be answered in the coming months.
(With research help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)